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Architecture Design Notebook

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Architecture Design Notebook

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Architecture Design Notebook
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Preamble

As we enter the twenty-first century, it has become fashionable to consider architecture through a veil of literature. Such was not always the case; indeed, it could be argued that the practice of architecture has rarely been underpinned by a close correspondence with theory, and that designers have been drawn more to precedent, to seminal buildings and projects rather than to texts for a creative springboard to their fertile imaginations. This is merely an observation and not an argument against fledgling building designers adopting even the simplest of theoretical positions; nor does it deny the profound influence of a small number of seminal texts upon the development of twentieth-century architecture, for there has been a close correspondence between some of those texts and icons which emerged as the built outcome.

But even the most basic theoretical stance must be supported in turn by a few fundamental maxims which can point the inexperienced designer in the right direction towards prosecuting an acceptable architectural solution. This book, then, attempts to offer that support by not only offering some accepted maxims or design orthodoxies, but also by suggesting how they can inform crucial decisions which face the architect engaged in the act of designing. The text is non-theoretical and therefore makes no attempt to add to the ample literature surrounding architectural theory; rather it aims to provide students engaged in building design with a framework of accepted ways of looking at things which will support and inform their experiment and exploration during the so called‘design process’.

The plethora of literature concerned with the ‘design process’ or ‘design methodology’ is a fairly recent phenomenon which gained momentum during the late 1950s. In these early explorations design was promulgated as a straightforward linear process from analysis via synthesis to evaluation as if conforming to some universal sequence of decision making. Moreover, design theorists urged designers to delay as long as possible the creative leap into ‘form-making’ until every aspect of the architectural problem was thought to be clearly understood. But every practicing architect knew that this restrictive linear model of the design process flew in the face of all shared experience; the reality of designing did not conform to a predetermined sequence at all but demanded that the designer should skip between various aspects of the problem in any order or at any time, should consider several aspects simultaneously or, indeed, should revisit some aspects in a cyclical process as the problem became more clearly defined. Furthermore, the experience of most architects was that a powerful visual image of their embryonic solution had already been formed early on in the design process, suggesting that fundamental aspects of ‘form-making’ such as how the building would look, or how its three dimensional organization would be configured in plan and section, represented in reality an early, if tentative, creative response to any architectural problem.

The act of designing clearly embraces at its extremes logical analysis on the one hand and profound creative thought on the other, both of which contribute crucially to that central ground of ‘form-making’. It is axiomatic that all good buildings depend upon sound and imaginative decisions on the part of the designer at these early stages and how such decision-making informs that creative ‘leap’ towards establishing an appropriate three dimensional outcome.

These initial forays into ‘form-making’ remain the most problematic for the novice and the experienced architect alike; what follows are a few signposts towards easing a fledgling designer’s passage through these potentially rough pastures.

TOC

1 PREAMBLE 1
2 THE CONTEXT FOR DESIGN 3
3 ARRIVING AT THE DIAGRAM 13
RESPONDING TO THE SITE 13
CHOOSING AN APPROPRIATE ‘MODEL’ 16
ORGANISING THE PLAN 23
4 CHOOSING APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGIES 39
STRUCTURE 39
SERVICES 42
HOW WILL IT STAND UP? 43
HOW IS IT MADE? 51
WILL IT BE COMFORTABLE? 58
WILL IT BE GREEN? 62
5 HOW WILL IT LOOK? 71
EXPRESSION V SUPPRESSION 71
ROOF 74
OPENINGS 77
ELEVATIONS 77
WALL MEMBRANES 78
THE CORNER 81
SCALE 83
6 THE SPACES AROUND 93
CENTRIFUGAL AND CENTRIPETAL SPACE 93
URBAN SPACE TYPOLOGY 101
7 POSTSCRIPT: A WORKING METHOD 107
TRADITION V THE VIRTUAL BUILDING 107
FURTHER READING 111

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